1/3 (One Third)
Based upon Dante's Inferno, 1/3 is a timeless fable of redemption, a gritty, streetwise contemporary thriller, and a poetic meditation on urban alienation. In his feature debut, director and co-writer Yong-man Kim ("Mr. Kim" of New York City's Kim's Video chain - the legendary and influential counter-culture cinema resource acknowledged by Quentin Tarantino in "Kill Bill") shows a masterful ability to poetically detail the private lives of city-dwelling loners while mapping the spiritual abyss of the human soul. Within the cloister of a Lower East Side tenement apartment, Chris, a young Buddhist monk, lives an intentionally solitary and ascetic life. By day, Chris makes a meager living sketching charcoal portraits for tourists in Washington Square Park. By night, he cleanses himself of physical and emotional needs through routine, self- denial, and meditation. But when the monk accidentally discovers that he can see into his pretty high school student neighbor's apartment, he gets an unblinking view of un-fulfillable human desire at its most perverse. Lotusia, the object of his attention, is not the innocent she appears to be. Night after night, she works as a teen prostitute and numbly endures obscene physical cruelty and sexual humiliation at the hands of her clients. With Chris as her sole witness, Lotusia's degradations grow more intense and her efforts to free herself from a lifelong chain of cruelty grow increasingly desperate. As Chris' fascination threatens to become obsession, the young monk crosses the boundaries of his own personal purgatory to confront and experience the pain that presages wisdom.
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Top customer reviews
The Buddhist monk is to cut the chains from life so he can achieve nirvana and enlightenment here on earth and elsewhere, breaking from the karmic circle. But Chris' observation of Lotusia's sexual acting out and suffering becomes subjective and empathetic. While he doesn't say he wants to save her from herself, the plot drives us there with him as he seems to come to that sudden enlightenment of intense compassion for others driven by worry about their mortal well-being. That isn't very enlightened, perhaps, but it is surely of the Buddha, who stayed behind after achieving Nirvana because he said when any one being has not achieved enlightenment, it is as if no one has.
Screenplay by Yongman Kim and Ed Moran. Directed by Youngman Kim. With Ivo Velon and Diane Gitelmam. Distributed by Kino International. Original Music by Dominick Mack and Ed Moran.